News

The Cleveland Museum of Art Digitized 30,000 Artworks in the Public Domain

The museum is now offering unrestricted access to nearly half of its collection. As an added bonus, metadata for more than 61,000 works is also available without restriction.

Behold, the power of Creative Commons! (photoshop by author, combining Jean-Etienne Liotard’s “François Tronchin” (1757) with a Peruvian “Shell with Inlaid Feline” (100 BCE–700 CE), all images courtesy Cleveland Museum of Art)

Brace yourself for some meme-worthy Egyptian cats and gif-able Renaissance babies, the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) recently announced unrestricted digital access for nearly half its collection of artworks.

Making good on its mission to “create transformative experiences through art, for the benefit of all the people forever,” CMA has opened its digital archives to the public through a partnership with Creative Commons Zero (CC0), a global nonprofit dedicated to the free distribution of otherwise copyrighted images.

30,000 artwork images — nearly half of the museum’s entire collection — are now available for digital users to remix, research, merchandise, print, and explore. Better yet, released metadata for more than 61,000 works will allow scholars to more easily investigate conduct research into provenance and object histories. You can search the Cleveland institution’s collection here.

Vincent van Gogh, “The Large Plane Trees (Road Menders at Saint-Rémy)” (1889), oil on fabric

“If we are committed to transparency, to fostering creativity, to engaging communities within and far beyond our region,” wrote the CMA’s director and president William Griswold in a Medium post announcing the initiative, “then there is almost nothing we can do that would have greater impact.”

The museum has also changed its policies to encourage visitors to capture their own still and moving images of their public-domain artworks during their visits.

The CMA has also made access to collection images and data available through a public application programming interface (API) and a GitHub repository.

Previously, Hyperallergic has reported on a growing number of museums and archives that have opened their collections to public access. The list includes the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Newberry Library, the Walters Art Museum, and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.

Claude Monet, “The Red Kerchief” (ca. 1868-1873), oil on fabric
Francisco de Zurbarán, “Christ and the Virgin in the House at Nazareth” (c. 1640), oil on canvas
“Funerary Portrait of a Young Girl” (c. 25-37), encaustic on wood
“Temple Relief of a Deity”
(360-246 BCE), limestone
“The Three Sacred Shrines at Kumano: Kumano Mandala” (c. 1300), Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk
Jacques-Louis David, “Cupid and Psyche” (1817), oil on canvas
comments (0)